It's been hard to miss this whole EDM push lately, between Skrillex's sold-out show at the State Theatre (and Best New Artist nomination at the Grammys this weekend) and whatever exactly happened at the Port City Music Hall a couple weekends back with the Barstool Sports Blackout orgy-fest thing. Congrats to the 207 Nightlife crew for getting people out and shaking their ass on a regular basis.
Mosart212 is not exactly that kind of EDM, but if all of this brouhaha brings attention back to that electronic music scene that's been smoldering locally for the past decade, all the better. A Portland-based DJ who's currently doing sets in Rochester, New York, every Friday night through March 9 and putting up mixes on BrooklynRadio and the La MoDa blog he shares with Mantisounds, mosart212 released his first solo album, PASSIVE/AGGRESSIVE, this past weekend. It purely comprises digital sounds and samples, but I'm not sure you'd dance to it.
At 10 songs and just over half an hour, it's a fairly reserved record, actually. I won't pretend to be versed in all the genres and sub-genres that have been carved out of electronic music, but mosart212 rarely trades in 4/4 beats, uses all kinds of atmospheric effects, and is a meditative and thoughtful creator.
Really, what's being a DJ about but taste? After a great deal of mood-setting, the pairing of "sKy" and "Upsetting Mave Datthews" late in the album are everything I need to know about mosart212. The former opens with a bluesy guitar that gives way to a sample of Dylan singing "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," which somehow bleeds into a hot disco beat. It's impossible that it works so well. Then he backs that with "Upsetting," built on a five-note bass riff and the "cuz I don't get upset" line from Eric B. and Rakim's "Microphone Fiend." The snare is martial, commanding, and yet paired with a playful boop-boop alien melody.
Of course, the irony is that mosart212 never touches a microphone. But who cares? From the '60s TV soundtrack vibe that moves through "Punks of Crust" to the '80s flute-synths used to mock that "Confessions of a Hipster" chick 1.6 million of you watched on YouTube in "Hipstah," he infuses his personality throughout PASSIVE/AGGRESSIVE, sucking in random bits of popular culture and spitting back an amalgam of mid- and downtempo beats you can sometimes nod your head to.
But don't worry, I'm sure he can get you all kinds of sweaty in the club, too.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PASSIVE/AGGRESSIVE | Released by mosart212 | Download for free at mosart212.com